NEW YORK—Ron Gonen, the city’s “recycling czar,” said that the city is starting a high-rise compost program this month at the Helena in an interview with Plastics News.
The Helena is a green apartment building in Midtown Manhattan.
Gonen also said that the curbside compost program Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in his State of the City speech will begin in April as a pilot program in a neighborhood in Staten Island.
The two compost plans should be examined in two years and should possibly be taken citywide if they are working well.
“We have over a million tons of residential organics in New York City, so it’s a massive opportunity for us to divert a significant portion of our waste stream,” said Gonen.
As for the Styrofoam ban, a proposal also outlined in Bloomberg’s speech, Gonen said that it is not a decision being made in a vacuum.
“Anything that we see in our waste stream that’s either not recyclable or it’s recyclable but it doesn’t have a market, we’re looking to work with that manufacturer or that industry to make sure that they provide a product or packaging that is recyclable or they create a market for their product or packaging,” he said. “If they can’t or they’re not interested in doing so, we’re going to look for other ways to resolve that situation.”
When asked about a plastic bag ban, Gonen said that city officials have been discussing it “for a long time.”
“But there hasn’t been a decision or path that we’ve chosen in regard to plastic bags,” he said.Gonen also put a number on the number of recycling containers being rolled out around the city—1,000 this year—something he talked about during a discussion about the future of recycling last August.
Finally, Gonen was asked how he likes the moniker, “recycling czar.” His official title is the deputy commissioner of sanitation, recycling, and sustainability.
“It’s amusing and slightly embarrassing,” he said.